Aug 29 2012 by David Ogilvie, Stirling Observer Wednesday
Stirling Albion 0 Clyde 1
THERE was speculation over the summer that Clyde might be moving – should they eventually leave their Cumbernauld base, it would be no surprise if they fancied flitting to Forthbank.
As if the riverside views and panorama of the Ochils weren’t enough, the Bully Wee must feel right at home here. This was their eighth win in 15 visits over the past two decades. Stirling have come out on top in just three of these games, with four draws.
A first-half goal from former East Stirling and Bo’ness United striker Kevin Watt, making his first start for Jim Duffy’s team, was enough to settle this contest in Clyde’s favour as Albion slumped to their second defeat on the trot – can it really be only a fortnight since Annan were thumped 5-1?
Binos boss Greig McDonald had called on a reaction from his players in the wake of the 3-1 defeat at Elgin. He didn’t get it. This was a desperately disappointing and disjointed display from the Binos against a team who finished second from bottom in Division Three last term.
Clyde will hope for better this time around and have already racked up two away wins – with this triumph following an opening-day victory at Montrose. Their only loss was 2-0 to high-flying Peterhead at neutral Alloa, as the new artificial pitch at Broadwood wasn’t quite ready for action.
By the end of this 90 minutes, Stirling could claim to have had enough chances to have nicked a point but their overall performance wasn’t good enough.
They gave the ball away with alarming regularity, lacked drive and impetus, and too much of the play was channelled through the middle – a consequence of the absence of natural width in the team.
McDonald made four changes to the side beaten at Borough Briggs the previous week. David McClune, Kieran McAnespie, Gary Thom and new signing Steven Weir all started as Jamie Clark, Ross McGeachie, Gavin Macpherson and Gary Brass dropped out.
On paper it was a strong and experienced side, with Mark Ferry and Jamie McCunnie in midfield and Graham Weir linking the play behind his brother Steven – snapped up until December from Australian outfit Moreland Zebras with Bradley Coyne out for several weeks with a knee injury – and Scott Davidson, who had scored against Annan and Elgin.
Davidson was denied a late leveller when his lob from a Josh Flood delivery beat former Falkirk keeper Jamie Barclay and came back off the bar and Albion also struck the woodwork in the first half when former Livingston striker Steven Weir’s deflected effort glanced against the bar.
Before that, McAnespie’s 25-yard free-kick sailed narrowly wide and Ferry came close with a header but Stirling’s attacking play generally lacked any conviction.
The arrival of winger Flood and midfielder Daly McSorley lifted things slightly as Clyde tired and the latter forced a smart save from Barclay, who also did well to flip away a looping shot from Steven Weir that was top-corner bound.
Ultimately, Stirling were unable to breach a defence that had already conceded four times in the league this season and it was a happy return to Forthbank for ex-Binos Paul Hay and John Kane.
The goal that won it arrived after 25 minutes and was down to Stirling’s weakness of wanting to pass the ball in the wrong areas. Danny Ashe was caught out on this occasion and lively forward Stefan McCluskey, a summer signing from Shotts Juniors, teed up Watt, who turned his man and gave Mark Peat no chance with a perfect finish just inside the right-hand post.
The 240-strong visiting support were almost celebrating again three minutes later but this time Watt fired over and McCluskey also wasted a clear chance before he was denied what looked a certain penalty in the 38th-minute when McClune caught him in the box.
Referee Des Roache did Albion a turn by waving play on, but they failed to take advantage.
The visitors didn’t offer much threat in the second half – trialist Stevie Masterton fizzed a fierce drive wide – but they were largely comfortable as Stirling slithered to defeat in the rain.
It will require a much-improved showing if Albion are to earn a positive result at home to Queen’s Park on Saturday to take into the international break the following weekend.
STIRLING ALBION: Peat, McClune, Ashe, McCunnie (McSorley 62), Thom, Allison (McGeachie 62), Davidson, Ferry, G Weir, S Weir, McAnespie (Flood 72). Subs not used: Macpherson, Filler.
CLYDE: Barclay, Brown, Kane, Gray, Marsh, Hay, Neill, Masterton (Sweeney 82), Watt, McCluskey, McColm (Scullion 82). Subs not used: MacBeth, Sharp, Rajovic.
Referee: Des Roache